Interesting article regarding the actual financials from the Longhorn network. You can see the actual documents received via a FOA request at the link.
The conference realignment saga between the Big 12 and the SEC seemed to reach its cusp Saturday evening, as Texas A&M University wrote its dream ending to the drama that has unfolded over the last couple of years, defeating #1 and defending national champion Alabama in Tuscaloosa as a member of the Southeastern Conference. The Aggies, led by new head coach Kevin Sumlin, are 8-2 on the season with a 5-2 record in SEC conference play, proving doubters who said they couldn't compete in the new conference completely and utterly wrong. Meanwhile in the Big 12 conference, replacements TCU and West Virginia who were deemed as better programs have 5 conference wins between them.
A major storyline last year that tipped conference realignment over the edge was the development of the Longhorn Network, an effort between the University of Texas and ESPN to create a television network surrounding one school and athletic program. The resistance to this idea by the rest of the Big 12 conference has been well characterized on this very blog. In fact, we (really @spadilly ) were the first to bring you the Longhorn Network Contract.
So at what cost has the Longhorn Network brought upon the University of Texas Athletic Department? Just look at the success Texas A&M has had in their new conference. With a new coach in Kevin Sumlin, a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Johnny Manziel, the opportunity for high school talent from the state of Texas to play in the Conference of Champions, and now the record to prove that the Aggies can compete in the SEC effectively, it seems as if the Aggies are on the upward trend to become THE program in the State of Texas. Don't believe us? Just read THIS article by our friend Bruce Feldman.
While the Aggies were beating #1 Alabama on a national stage of The SEC on CBS (which was the second highest viewed college football game this season), the Texas Longhorns hosted an 11am home game against Iowa State which was shown on the Longhorn Network, meaning most of the country couldn't watch the half empty stadium celebrate the life of former coach Darrell K. Royal. In fact, Iowa State fans who were shown the game on local ABC affiliate stations had greater access to the game than Longhorn fans. Case in point: "Today’s Texas-Iowa State football game will be off limits for millions of fans nationwide without the year-old Longhorn Network." -- Austin American Statesman
All of this has come at a huge cost to the University of Texas. There certainly seems to be egg on the face of Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds and President Bill Powers. But at least the new Longhorn Network is bringing in truckloads of money to Austin, right? Not so fast my friend. We (spadilly) have been able to obtain just how much money the Longhorn Network brought in to the University of Texas and its athletic department this past fiscal year.
So let's get to the actual numbers, for entertainment purposes. We have known previously that the network should bring about $10-15 million annually. So how much did the network actually bring in from July 2011-July 2012?
So in July 2011-2012, the Longhorn Network was supposed to bring in a projected $10.9 million. However, this first year payment was prorated based upon the actual launch date of the network in late August of 2011, compared to July 1st, 2011. So in reality, the network brought in $9.2 million to be split between 3rd tier rights partner IMG and the University of Texas. Once IMG collects its 14% share, the University is left with $7.9 million for the first year. Not bad right? Well the money is about to be split again.
Here is actually payments the University received
And here is the final split, 50/50 between the University and the Athletic Department. In all, the AD collected $3.9 million from the first year of the Longhorn Network.
Now comes the question. Has it been worth it? Has nearly $4 million added to the athletic department bottom line worth the weakening of the Big 12 conference, creating instability and devaluing of the overall product on the field? What about the trouble it has caused Mack Brown, causing him to devote time away from his team? And what about the awakening of a football giant in Texas A&M that can seemingly overtake Texas as the top program in the state fairly quickly in terms of appeal, fandom, and recruiting? Has the $4 million been worth it DeLoss? That is not for us to answer, that is for the thousands of Longhorn fans that have been shut off from their football team three times this season because of poor network distribution.
It seems the answer is clear: The University of Texas has been satisfied with their $8 million paycheck to cause havoc within its conference, reduction in the quality of football product on the field, and the loss of marketability by shutting out the rest of the country and even their most loyal fans from watching their team.
We hope it has been worth it, because it has been the best deal for Texas A&M.